Great Northern Loon Eggs Hatching
Like many flowering plants that blossomed two or three weeks early this year, Great Northern Loons (previously called Common Loons) got an early start to their nesting season. While some adults are still sitting on eggs, some chicks can be seen hitching a ride with their parents. Even though chicks can swim as soon as their down dries, their inability to regulate their body temperature for the first two weeks and their need for protection from predators at this vulnerable time, they are brooded on the backs and under the wings of their parents. After a couple of weeks, however, the chicks are under their own steam and can be seen bobbing in the water near their parents. (Kayakers and photographers — extreme caution should be taken to avoid approaching loon nesting areas too close at this time of year.)
American Goldfinches Fledging
American goldfinches are late nesters – it is not uncommon for them to be raising young in August, and occasionally even into September. Recently while walking through a wet meadow, I became aware of a sudden burst of activity to my right. Unbeknownst to me, I had come quite close to an American goldfinch nest which was full of nestlings on the brink of fledging. As I passed by, the young burst explosively from their nest. Two fluttered to the ground and quickly sought cover, one flew a short distance into some shrubs, and one remained in the nest. Regardless of where they sought shelter, the young will be fed and cared for by their parents for the next three weeks or so.
The red-tailed hawk nest which has been featured several times this summer is empty! Yesterday I watched as the remaining young red-tail climbed out on a branch above the nest and flew over the adjacent field, landing in a tree on the edge of the field. Because recently-fledged red-tailed hawks tend to stay very near their nest for the first few days (and sometimes weeks) after fledging, this may well have not been its maiden flight. Nevertheless, it was a wonderful sight to see!
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